Toyota Adds Solar Roof to Euro and Japanese Prius Models

Posted by at 1:55 pm on June 20, 2016

Prius Solar RoofThe next-generation Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid gets a little greener with a the rooftop solar panel for recharging the batteries. Sun power only amplifies the eco-car cred of one of the greenest vehicles. The cells charge the car even when it is parked and can boost fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent by allowing longer electric-only driving times.

Unfortunately for U.S. fans of all things green, the technology will only be offered in the Japan and European versions of the car — at least initially. But Koji Toyoshima, chief engineer of the Prius plug-in and its standard Prius hybrid sibling, says Toyota aims to introduce the panels Stateside too. The problem: The Japan market solar panels are laid on reinforced glass sheeting that doesn’t pass America’s more stringent rollover crash tests.

Toyota doesn’t have the technology to laminate the photovoltaic cells in a resin that won’t shatter dangerously during a rollover, Toyoshima said. But the company is working on a solution so that it can introduce the solar panels to the U.S. version of the car during its lifecycle. Dubbed the Prius Prime in the U.S., the plug-in arrives Stateside this fall.

“We would like to introduce this, at least in the lifetime of the current model,” Toyoshima said Wednesday at the car’s Japan debut. “It should be possible to do a lot of charging this way in places like California or Arizona.”

In Japan, the plug-in Prius will be called the Prius PHV. Toyota has not announced whether the solar panels will be standard or optioned here.

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